A scandal at Fiat

The Fiat empire has suffered a series of humiliations in recent years as the company has struggled to compete in the super-competitive automotive world. The empire, which includes Ferrari, is currently headed by former Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo, who was called by the Agnelli Family in after the death of Umberto Agnelli in May last year. The original plan was for the empire to come under the control of Umberto's nephew Giovanni Alberto (the son of Gianni Agnelli - the man who led the firm from 1966 until his death in January 2004) but he died of a rare cancer in 1997. Agnelli's son Edoardo never seemed likely to take the role and committed suicide five years ago by jumping off a motorway viaduct. This left the family with no-one to run the empire and so Montezemolo was appointed and the process began to groom John and Lapo Elkann (the sons of Agnelli's daughter Margherita).

The more dashing of the two was Lapo, vice-president of the company, in charge of brand management. He has been in the spotlight recently as Fiat tries to rebuild its image and increase its sales.

Alas, the 28-year-old was rushed to hospital earlier this week after an apparent drug overdose in an apartment owned by a 50-year-old transsexual in the back streets of Turin.

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